Monday, January 09, 2006

Canaries Dwarfed

Visited Norwich at the weekend, a city I would recommend for anyone with an interest in real ale; friendly people and attractive broads. On the Friday night sampled a few of the pubs (of which The Ribs Of Beef on Wensum Street, a cosy riverside hostelry with a selection of ten ales and a barmaid with an impressively cantilevered cleavage, deserves particular mention) before going to see Sargasso Trio at the Norwich Arts Centre and then heading for a curry. Sargasso Trio are by general consensus the best band currently working in Norwich, a prog-folk supergroup who have just signed to the same label as Tom Vek and Groove Armada, and they did indeed supply fine entertainment to an appreciative and decent-sized crowd. The NAC is a small-to-medium venue but has a relatively high ceiling so the acoustics were an improvement on the norm for that size of auditorium, and with the group taking turns on the vocal chores with their distinctive singing styles there was a pleasing balance and variety to the set which made for a fuzzily inclusive winter's evening entertainment (admittedly the Woodforde's Wherry was probably kicking in by then).

The next morning met up with some fellow Hammers fans up from London for a few beers before the FA Cup showdown. Officially there were 3,400 West Ham supporters at the game but talk amongst the city had most of Norwich's venues under a blanket invasion of Burberry, claret and blue, so I suspect there were many punters here on spec looking to snap up some of the 2,000 home tickets that hadn't been taken up before matchday. The match itself proved something of an anti-climax, gaffer Alan Pardew picking near-enough his strongest side against a Norwich team weakened by injuries and the most financially convenient porn-star complaint since John Wayne Bobbit when star striker Dean Ashton pulled up in training with a groin strain that prevented him from being cup-tied during the lucrative transfer window.

Without Ashton, Norwich were impotent up front and once Hammers midfielder Hayden Mullins whopped out an enormous piledriver from just outside the penalty area after only five minutes, the game threatened to dribble out into a limp conclusion. The cuptie's reserve-level intensity wasn't helped by Bobby Zamora making it two-nil near the hour mark when the Canaries' England squad keeper Robert Green literally handed him the ball with a feeble clearance from Matty Etherington's speculative cross. In a generous move to keep things interesting, Hammers' ginger stopper James Collins then needlessly handled the ball in his own area and McVeigh converted the penalty to give the home side a veneer of respectability their toothless display scarcely merited. The threat of an equaliser quickly dissipated, the only remaining entertainment provided by the hapless Green crashing his head straight into marvelous Marlon Harewood's knee just before the whistle, leaving him to be stretchered off as a sympathetic Hammers fan consoled him with the reminder that 'at least yer mum's safe tonight!'. Bless.


Blogger Ben said...

The Ribs Of Beef - I know it well, though to be honest I've spent much more time the other side of that little bridge in The Mischief (used to have a barman from my home town, and it was also where I watched England get beaten by Brazil in the 2002 World Cup). Norwich is a great city - can't believe it's now well over a year since I was last there. Of course it's going to be even more inconveniently distant when we move to darkest Wales...

1:19 AM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Ben, I also managed to pop into the Mischief but made it a swift one as I was on the lookout for a pub that served grub at the time. Seemed to be the haunt of choice for Norwich's hairy students on first impression so yes, I can see you fitting in well there!

8:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home